Benefit the Most From Your Telemedicine Consultation

When you call the hospital reception to book an appointment with your doctor, do not be surprised if they ask your preference for an audio or video consultation. All in-person Out-Patient Department (OPD) visits will be available only for emergency cases. When consulting over telemedicine, be it video or audio, getting the most out of your consultation is easy if you follow these simple steps.

Here are 6 pointers for patients to follow while using telemedicine to make the experience meaningful for your healing.

Make Notes of Your Symptoms

Keep track of your symptoms by first noting down the start date of the symptoms. You must also make notes about any changes in routine after the symptoms started, any noticeable patterns like the food you consumed, or any routine activities performed on the day it all started. Making a note of how long you’ve had the symptoms is also important.

Take Pictures & Share Electronically

If the symptoms are physically evident from the moment they started, keep documenting them in the form of pictures. You can then share the images with your physician before your scheduled consultation. This practice will help the physician to analyze your condition better.

Talk to the Point

Keep in mind that your consultation will last for 10-15 minutes based on your condition and diagnosis. During this time frame, focus your conversation on the reason for your appointment. Do not get distracted!

Use Devices to Measure Your Levels

If your physician has suggested you to use clinical equipment to measure specific readings, such as sugar levels, pulse, blood pressure, weight, or SPO2, then make sure you use it. You must also maintain a diary to note your daily/periodic readings.

Documentation From the Physician

Make a prior note if you need to refill the prescription or any medical documents from the physician like a medical certificate to produce to the employer or insurance company. If you need any documentation in a specific format, then keep the template ready. You can then send it to your doctor, who can give you an electronic copy after consultation.

Telemedicine Consultation Feedback

Make sure to give your feedback immediately after your telemedicine consultation. This practice will help the provider, vendor, and patient to improve their respective shortcomings and move ahead towards success.

Government of India’s Small Success Story During These Difficult Times

The Government of India has started eSanjeevaniOPD for its citizens. According to a study, there are 80% new users of telemedicine services; and 67% of the new users are satisfied with the use of telemedicine. This percentage will increase with the lockdown coming into effect as a result of the community spread of COVID-19. Read more about eSanjeevaniOPD by clicking the link Statistics show that Kerala is at the top in the utilization of telemedicine services, followed very closely by Tamil Nadu. The telemedicine services came into effect on May 1, 2020, across all states in India.

If your favorite doctor/family physician does not practice telemedicine, you can leave his contact details with us. Click here to access the MyTeleOPD Contact Us Link. We will onboard and train your doctor in using telemedicine so that your doctor gets the most out of the consultation too. You can also share our videos on how to use telemedicine.

3 Steps to Implement a Successful Telemedicine Program in Hospitals

The implementation of a successful telemedicine program is not rocket science. Initially, it requires a lot of time, marketing, and operations efforts, it is similar to building a specialty practice in your hospital.

Telemedicine is the real buzz among Healthcare Organizations and Patients due to its unique advantage of protecting Doctors and Patients from contracting the deadly Coronavirus. It is now the need of the hour for hospitals to provide healthcare services at its normal best.

We can all learn from a small football-loving country, Portugal. The Portugal National Healthcare System has been successful in adopting Telemedicine. The healthcare fraternity is fixated at Portugal National Healthcare System, as 87% of their hospitals use telemedicine today, which means its larger population has access to it without visiting the hospital. Telemedicine in Portugal originally grabbed the spotlight in the healthcare industry due to the unavailability of healthcare services in remote places, especially for the elderly population who were unable to travel. Later it continued as part of their normal healthcare system to avoid crowded Out-Patient Departments (OPDs) and long wait times. This adoption has reduced unnecessary OPD visits with a reduction in readmissions by 75%. Today Portugal hospitals are the highest users of telemedicine technology.

The Government of India is also encouraging the adoption of telehealth to help mitigate risks and reduce COVID-19 cases. The guidelines issued by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare are easy to understand and follow. If only the Government would go a step ahead and start incentivizing the hospitals for adopting Electronic Health Records which would be awesome.

Step 1: Awareness

Awareness of the technology, process and environment is where you kick start your implementation for a successful telemedicine program

Create a Learning Environment for Providers

Any change in a hospital is usually interrupted with some hindrance. There could be users who are still learning to use technology or processes. Awareness can be created by providing mock calls and practice environment to providers before they get started.

Get Patients On-Board

It is essential to have a strategy in place to educate patients about the use of the application and prepare them before consultations. Patients can be informed through social media where demo videos are published. They can even be informed on the organization’s website where a learning video on accessing e-consultation can be made available. Well instructed patients are more likely to save the physician’s and hospital’s time. Sending out reminders over messages, emails, or calls to patients about their upcoming consultation will also aide in their digital doctor visits. Remember, it is not only crucial to get the patient’s informed consent before getting started, but also mandatory to know the patient-physician identity.

Step 2: Access

Usage typically depends on the Ease of Access and it is vital for implementing a successful telemedicine program

Make it Easy

Make it easy for Patients to access Telemedicine Services. Have Call to Action buttons placed right on the homepage of your hospital website. Also, ensure that the providers can easily access the Telemedicine platform, you should have the IT team to add them as bookmarks or create links on the intranet. Educate your patients and providers on how to access the platform.

Vendor With Software Support System

The Indian market has quite a few telemedicine vendors. However, hospitals are highly recommended to opt for telemedicine vendors who provide complete software support.

When a patient has an eConsultation in the off hours and a physician faces a technical issue at the nick of the moment, the reliable software support team will be the rescuer of that situation. Having a backup or alternative plan for eConsultation keeps the session on. It not only enhances providers’ confidence but also gains confidence in the targeted population to continue using the technology. The targeted population can indirectly do marketing of providers by referring or posting good reviews on social media.

Step 3: Adoption

Good outcomes require Adoption, the step 3 ensures that your entire telemedicine program has been implemented successfully.

Augment Telemedicine

Telemedicine should augment your regular healthcare services and not be run in a silo and to ensure that this happens you need to make sure that Steps 1 and 2 are implemented successfully. Active participation of Providers, Patients, and hospital staff is vital to the success of the program.

Identify & Inform Before, During, and After session formalities

Make sure the provider has the documentation that needs to be created or needed for eConsultations. Identifying the documentation such as the patient consent form, uploading previous visit summary or diagnostic results, documenting the visit summary, and a few tips for staff on workflow will prove helpful for the use of telemedicine in hospitals.

  • Ensure ePrescription should be based on the Government’s policy.
  • Review billing policy for self-pay, insurance coverage, and waiver.
  • Identify Integration tools and the setup for EMRs
  • Verifying the equipment set up and compatibility with mobile and desktop.
  • Review the data security is intact as PHI is involved.

As they say, success is a journey and not the destination. So make sure you get all the 3A’s for a successful implementation of your telemedicine program.

MyTeleOPD has successfully implemented Telemedicine in Large Tertiary Care Hospitals as well as Solo Practices, to know more on how you can successfully implement Telemedicine Program click here

Don’t forget the telemedicine session ambiance should be like any regular physician-patient physical encounter, calm and well lit. Being prepared in formal attire for Doctors is equally important to ensure that the patient gets the look and feel of physical interaction with a doctor in a hospital. Lastly, and most importantly, make sure that the doctor’s face is completely visible during video consultation is key to the patient’s experience and feeling of being heard.

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Telemedicine: Common Mistakes

Telemedicine is easy to set up but not easy to run. As a Hospital (IT/Operations) Administrator or Practice Manager, you should avoid these common mistakes when setting up telemedicine.

There has been a surge in the practice of telemedicine because of the COVID-19 pandemic, lockdown, and restrictions imposed thereof. Telemedicine usage in India has increased to 300% in the last couple of months to meet immediate healthcare service requirements.

Non-Compliance in Telehealth

Several enterprises have rolled out telehealth applications that have introduced misconceptions which can be addressed only by vendors compliant with the IT Act, HIPAA (not applicable in India but needed for Patient Privacy and Protected Health Information), and Medical Council of India, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare. The vendor should also have a deep understanding of hospital information systems, processes, and how hospitals run their services.

Not Enough Marketing

Rolling out the telemedicine application is not an end in itself. You should create awareness on the availability of telemedicine services to get people to start using telemedicine.

When they are aware, they will start exploring the services based on their need. It’s a good idea to post a demo on how to schedule a consultation, the details of services or specialties available over telemedicine, and the benefits of telehealth consultations on your website or your social media. This will increase your visibility and that of your patients opting for telemedicine/digital health services.

One way to immediately get your existing patients to use telemedicine is through a broadcast message via text, email, or the good old telephone call. This will help kickstart your telemedicine consultations.

Missing Appointment Time

Punctuality is vital to successful telehealth calls. Doctors must ensure that patients are not waiting for long on a telemedicine schedule, be it audio or video. In addition, call coordinators must ensure that they effectively communicate punctuality guidelines to the patients.

Doctors need to align their calendars daily so that they don’t miss their appointments, followed by a quick check of the camera, mic, and speaker settings along with internet connectivity. Patients, on the other hand, need to create a checklist of the issues, symptoms, and any other problem areas for discussion with the Doctor.

Inadequate Clinical Reporting

Out-of-the-box telemedicine solutions do not have the ability to integrate with your clinical management system, resulting in reporting inadequacy. This can be solved by providing the metrics required for clinical reporting and ensuring that your providers have access to these reports. However, the best way to solve this is to integrate the telemedicine solution with your Hospital Information System (HIS) or Practice Management System.

Disregarding EHR integration

The chances of clinical errors increase with stand-alone telehealth solutions in which the staff documents patient information in both the telehealth application and EHR. These clinical errors can be eliminated if the clinical and administrative data of the patient is sent automatically to the EHR systems. This integration will majorly help in the continuity of care and clinical decision-making accuracy.

The MyTeleOPD Digital Clinic has overcome more than all of the above drawbacks to provide seamless telemedicine consultations not only during a crisis such as COVID-19 pandemic but also during ordinary times. Having taken the opportunity to learn, we are now the real enabler for Doctor-Patient Consultations.